Disclaimer: This is just one perspective on a complex issue!
When my kids were younger, I thought that I would always homeschool them. You see, this is all that I knew growing up. I was homeschooled, because I was raised in another country and that was the best option for my family. However, I bought into the idea that it was the best option for all children, no matter what.
My husband, on the other hand, did not agree that homeschooling was best, so when our firstborn was ready to start school, he ended up at our local public school. It was a new experience for both of us, since I had never been to school either. The next year, my second born child started school as well. Overall, we had a good experience those first couple of years. Unfortunately, the following year brought big changes citywide to the school system. My son had a challenging year and when I again brought up homeschooling, my husband agreed. That was eight years ago, and we've been happily homeschooling ever since.
Then, six years ago, our third son was born, and he turned our world upside down. He was eventually diagnosed with sensory processing disorder, and the first few years of his life were demanding to say the least. Trying to meet his needs and homeschool the other 2 proved to be challenging. I switched to different ways of homeschooling to compensate for this. I opted for a much less hands on approach (ie. DVDs, classes, independent work). When it became time for him to start school last year, I just thought I would try to homeschool him as well. His Occupational Therapist agreed that it would be best for him to have the one-on-one attention and be able to go at his pace.
Last year he started Kindergarten. I tried to not be too strenuous with him, but we worked every day learning letters and numbers. We worked all year off and on, often working through frustration, anger, tears, despair, and I often felt I was going to just give up. In my mind, there were no other options. Homeschooling was the best thing for him. I wasn't open minded enough consider what else could be done for him.
However, as summer approached, I did some serious soul searching. I was finally able to admit to myself that I couldn't teach him at home right now. At this point, I became stressed and panicked because I was so late to the school registration game. I began the search for a school that would be a good fit for my son. It was a frantic few weeks of applications, financial aide options, internet searches, asking other moms, etc. Eventually, it fell into place. We enrolled him into a private school that was willing to work with us to, hopefully, meet his needs right.
Here are some things I learned from this experience:
- Ultimately, each family has do what is best for each child at that time.
- Be open to change; sometimes things have to change and be different for each child to flourish.
- All options are good - whether it be public school, private school, or homeschool. Do what works for you at the time!
- Everyone brings different perspectives to the table, so go with what feels right for your child, no matter what others may say or think.
- Don't limit your possibilities.
- What works this year might not work next year.
- What works with one child might not be a good fit for another.
- Be your child's advocate. Learn how to be a voice for what they need, which can sometimes be different than what you need.
- Find people who will work with you to help your child learn, flourish at their pace, and meet their needs.
- Don't be afraid to speak up and ask for help, suggestions, or support.
- Don't listen to the negative people or ones who aren't supportive. You are the mom, the advocate, and are doing what you think is best for your child.
- Lastly, let's all just be supportive and encouraging to each other no matter how we choose to educate our children. In the end, we are all on this motherhood journey, trying to do what we feel is best for our children.